When you’re hiring a writer, editor or coach it’s important to know what you’re contracting for. Some definitions: 

Coaching is when the professional guides the client though the process of creating the written work. My coaching can include one-on-one conversations, email contact and
in-manuscript notes for guidance (also called developmental editing; see below). Coaching may include as few as one or two sessions, or ongoing weekly, bi-weekly or monthly contact. Coaching can include building time-management skills, discovering what nurtures creativity, brainstorming ideas, and keeping the client accountable for staying on task. Together the client and coach set goals and establish ways to reach them.

Copyediting is the final stage before a written work goes live. The copyeditor fixes any last remaining grammar, punctuation and clarity issues. Typically, the changes are not huge, though they will contribute to the overall quality of the work and the reader’s positive response to it.

Line editing is more intense. It happens when the manuscript is basically fine but some sentences may need rearranging for clarity and some content may need to be cut or revised to make the work stronger and more focused. With line editing, grammatical problems are corrected. It overlaps with copyediting, but goes deeper into content and is less intensely focused on every last little technical detail.

Rewriting happens when the ideas are sound but the manuscript is not well organized, the language may be seriously confusing or repetitive, and the author may not have thought everything through fully. Half or more of the content may be deleted and/or replaced.

Developmental editing involves looking at the big picture. The editor goes into the manuscript and offers suggestions for changes, in the form of notes within the manuscript. In most cases the editor will also provide a separate overall report on what the manuscript needs. Typically (and for best results and greatest time efficiency) developmental editing happens early in the writing process. There is little or no line editing or copy editing of the work, since much is likely to change. Typically, my writing coaching will include some developmental editing.

Ghost writing is when a writer does writing that is then attributed to someone else. Ghost writers may or may not also be “secret.” Ghost writers may do their own research, or the client may provide it. Or the client may provide leads and contact information.

Writing means that the professional writer creates the work from scratch. As with ghost writing, sometimes she will do the research herself, sometimes the client will provide it. The writer’s will in most cases appear with the work.